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spirit, for unquestionably it lias been seriously damaged in the eyes of the people by the alleged interference of the late Prime Minister In dictating to the House of Lords the acceptance of the Trades Disputes Bill and the rejection of the Education Bill. The British canon of fair play shrinks from the conception of an ex-Prime Minister, with a vast majority against him In the House of Commons, pursuing his policy by appeal to party allegiance in "another place." A shrewd suspicion is abroad that if the Lords had acted on their own judgment they would have insisted on amendments to the Trades Disputes Bill, and would not have utterly refused a compromise on the Education Bill. What the country desires to see in the revising House is not a tactical dexterity, but a judgment unbiassed by party considerations on the merits of the measures submitted to it.
The character of the personnel of the House of Lords has already been alluded to, and it only remains to consider the estimate they have formed of their functions and duties. That they have arrived at a sound conception of the duties of a revising Chamber, and thoroughly understand their powers and the limitations upon them, must, I think, be conceded. The lines laid down by the responsible leaders of that House have been frankly accepted. They have been formulated on many occasions, and by no one better than by Lord Lansdowne on the 5th of October last, at Perth, when he said:
What the House of Lords claimed was not the right to obstruct; it did claim, and It meant to exercise, the right of revising measures that came up to them from the other House of Parliament. And let him say that process of revision was doubly necessary in these days, when, owing to the operations of the closure, a great many Bills came up to them which had never
been discussed at all, or of which, let them say. three-quarters of the clauses had never been debated in the House of Commons. They claimed that right of revision, and they also claimed the right, to be exercised only in extraordinary cases, of asking the country to judge between the two Houses of Parliament as it judged between them at the time of the rejectiou of the Home Rule Bill, when, they would remember, it pronounced an overwhelming verdict in favor of the House of Lords.
Whatever may be thought of the composition of the House of Lords, of its origin, or of the qualification of its members, it cannot be denied that its conception of its duties as a Second Chamber is sound; and experience proves it. Time and again the House of Lords has imposed its temporary veto upon legislation and the country has subsequently endorsed the action of the peers, and. once at least, in 1807. when Lord Palmerstou and the Liberal Government went to war with China, and Cobden carried a vote of censure against the Government in the Lower House, the House of Lords, in supporting the Government against its own followers, showed that it accurately interpreted the settled opinion of the electorate.
What would be the opinion of a perfectly impartial person postulating a Second Chamber as necessary in a democratic system of Government and having under review the Second Chamber as it exists with us? I think lie would be bound to admit that our Second Chamber forms a sound and accurate estimate of its duties, and that the great majority of its members are by education and experience well qualified to fulfil those duties. I think he would go further and add that it is improbable that a more competent body could be brought together by any system of election or nomination, however theoretically superior such methods of forming a Second Chamber may be. That i believe to be the fact; but in spite of that i am strongly impressed with the necessity for reform. The real force of so-called "popular" opinion, the volume of which is not, 1 think, very large, is against any Second Chamber worthy of the name. The real desire is to end the Second Chamber, or, failing that, to reduce it to a condition of paralyzed impotence that amounts to the same thing. The necessity for a Second Chamber is recognized in all democratic communities. in none of them- is the necessity so urgent as with us. Other nations are confronted with social and economic problems similar to those with which we have to deal; but, in other respects, our position is singular. With a vast indian Empire to administer, with long and exposed frontiers in the East and West, with great and numerous dominions and possessions in all quarters of the globe whose interests are coterminous with and, in the nature of things, sometimes conflicting with the interests of other nations, our position is one of extreme sensitiveness. No other nation is exposed to such continual danger. Our legislative and administrative machinery has to deal with problems of a character more varied and more intricate than those which are involved in the affairs of any other people. Any breakdown in our machinery would produce consequences infinitely more serious than in the case of any other community. With us the presence of an efficient governor to prevent the engine racing, of a flywheel to ensure steadiness and continuity of impulse, is more essential than to any other nation or Empire. Movement under a single Chamber—under the House of Commons—would be by ixiumls and rebounds, action and reaction; in short, by jerks. That would be of comparatively small importance were the effect produced confined to our own immediate domestic
concerns; but with a world-wide Empire and all the intricacies and complexities attaching to it involved, it is essential to our existence that the varied and violent modes of motion of the First Chamber should be reduced to one line of consistent progress. A Second Chamber is necessary to our existence. in view of that fact, and of the fact that the outcry against the House of Lords really originates in a desire to reduce it or any other Second Chamber to impotence or to abolish it altogether, it is highly desirable that the House of Lords should take steps to strengthen its position.
The House of Lords is at present laboring under difficulties from which time will bring relief. When the cleavage of political thought is clear, and social or economic opinions have crystallized into concrete political shape, a revising Chamber can form a pretty correct estimate of public feeling from the constitution of the popularly elected House. it can rely upon it that certain lasting definite substantial views dominated an election. Such is not the case now. Party politics are in a state of solution. Elements are seeking the complements necessary for combination. No great distinct issues are at stake. No human being could define the political creed of the party in power; and the party in opposition are concerned mainly in inventing aud imposing articles of faith upon the party in power which that party repudiate and deny. This "sloppy" condition of politics will pass away, party lines will harden up again under new conditions, but in the meantime existing circumstances impose unusual difficulties on the Second Chamber and make it specially incumbent on it to divest itself of elements of weakness and acquire elements of strength.
The most vuinerable spot in the constitution of the House is to be foun 1 in the fact that it contains, as any body of such numerical proportions must contain, certain "undesirables," and that other members, though perfectly desirable in all other respects, do not take any active interest in political or public affairs; yet both undesirables and absentees can vote, and by their votes might decide some question of the greatest importance. This defect, though probably more apparent than real, should be abated. it would relieve the House of a source of weakness and the House would undoubtedly derive an element of strength in an extended creation of life peerages, in larger representation of the King's dominions beyond the seas, and in the introduction of representatives of religious bodies other than the Established Church.
But into proposals for reform i do not desire to enter here. My views are embodied in a Bill introduced in the House of Lords in 1888: and Lord
The Nineteenth Century and After.
Newton has, i am happy to see, expressed his intention of introducing a Bill this session. The pity is that the matter was not officially taken in hand during the long continuance in. power of the Unionist party.
Such is the irony of fate that the House of Lords is not unlikely to find itself suffering under the same grievance against which the House of Commons so clamorously protests, but aggravated to this extent that the latter body has access to a Court of Appeal and the former has not. Nothing can be done save by consent of both Houses. Mending the House of Lords implies of necessity strengthening it. The object of its Radical critics is to weaken or abolish it. Under these circumstances it seems probable that, if the House of Lords passes a wise and moderate measure of reform, the House of Commons will throw out the Bill.
FRANCIS BACON AT THE BAR OF HiSTORY.
The more careful study of history in recent years has caused a mitigation of the verdicts passed on many of our greatest men. Pope, expressing the conventional view of his contemporaries, denounced Bacon us the meanest of mankind, and in the same breath condemned Cromwell to everlasting infamy. Those who condemn the public acts of Cromwell will admit that his reputation stands to-day on a very different level from that to which it was relegated by Pope. in the case of Bacon the result is more doubtful. Basil Montagu's attempt to rehabilitate him was smothered as soon as it was born by Macaulay's review. But a few years later Bacon found a new advocate in the most conscientious, most indefatigable, most capable of biogra
phers. Nearly a generation has passed away since Mr. Spedding's great work appeared. it was hailed with enthusiasm by scholars in every quarter, and for the first time the case for Bacon received a fair and impartial hearing. Nobody doubts that we have heard the last word for the defence, and after this interval of time it may be interesting to look round and inquire to what extent Mr. Spedding's conclusions are likely to be permanently adopted.
"i believed myself born for the service of mankind." in these words we have the keynote to Bacon's life. From a very early age the sense of a mission for which he was specially ordained, which be alone could fulfill had been growing up in his mind. He tells bow, when only fifteen, he wrote a scientific treatise which, "with great confidence and a magnificent title," he named "The Greatest Birth of Time." The character of his mission he defines in the preface to his "interpretation of Nature," written in 1603:
When i searched i found no work so meritorious as the discovery and development of the arts and inventions that tend to civilize the life of man. . . . Above all, if any man could succeed— not in merely bringing to light one particular invention, however useful— but in kindling in nature a luminary which would, at its first rising, shed some light on the present limits and borders of human discoveries, and which afterwards, as it ruse still higher, would reveal and bring into clear view every nook and cranny of darkness—it seemed to me that such a discoverer would deserve to be called the true Extender of the Kingdom of man over the Universe.
After reviewing his qualifications for such a task, he adds, with an almost sublime self-sufficiency, "For all these reasons i considered that my nature and disposition had. as it were, a kind of kinship and connection with truth." * Such were Bacon's real aims; such to the end they remained. A year before his death he can still say, "The ardor and constancy of my mind ... in this pursuit has not grown old nor cooled." Looking back on a long life spent in quite different occupations, it seems to him that he has been "borne by some destiny against the inclination of my genins."
Bacon, then, begins with the conviction that he is designed for a life of contemplation and research. Wealth and honors do not attract him. He is shy and brusque in manner; like others who are "of nature bashful," he is "mistaken for proud." He is not apt i<. flatter; his friend Essex makes ex
iSpedding's "Edition of Bacon's Works," ill. 519.
cuses for his "natural freedom and plainness of speech." and he has to cure himself of a habit of "speaking with panting, and labor of breath and voice." He writes to his uncle Burghley that he has "as vast contemplative ends as he has moderate civil ends."
it is easy to censure Bacon for forsaking his true destiny, but in the first instance he was forced by poverty to seek some kind of employment. While drudging at the Bar he had no leisure for philosophy, and he was continually harassed by petty pecuniary worries. He therefore applied to Burghley to help him to obtain some modest position about the Court. For some reason, neither Burghley nor the Queen was willing to promote him. Bacon believed that Burghley deliberately kept him back for fear that his interests might clash with those of Robert Cecil.' Why the Queen disliked or distrusted him we have no means of knowing. But it is certain that all his appeals after the death of his father, in 1579, failed to bring him the moderate assistance he needed.
Nine years later,2 in an unlucky hour, he made the acquaintance of Essex. Essex, then not quite twenty-one. was at the beginning of his lueteorllke career. His rise had been so sudden and so brilliant that it seemed for the moment that he must carry everything before him. He attached himself to Bacon with a romantic ardor unparalleled in the whole history of literary patronage; to quote Mr. Spedding. "a good opinion more confident, an interest more earnest and unmistakably sincere," than Essex expresses in his letters, "could not be conveyed in Eng
"In his letter to Burghley (January 1692) he says :" if ... 1 do seek or affect any place whereunto any that is nearer unto your lordship shall be concurrent, say then that I am a most dishonest man."
"We find Essex pleading Bacon's claims as early as 1588. See Dr. Abbott's " Introduction to Bacon's Essays," p. 10.
lish." The injustice with which Bacon was treated roused his keenest sympathy, and he engaged to "spend his uttermost credit, friendship and authority against whomsoever'' to secure Bacon's preferment. Nobody—not Mr. Spedding, certainly not Bacon himself—has ever denied that he kept his word. To Bacon, depressed by nine years' unsuccessful supplication, this unexpected support must have given new life, and not the least of his obligations to Essex lay in this, that he believed in him when, among persons of influence at any rate, no one else did. It was perhaps due to the fresh hopes thus excited that Bacon's "civil ends" gradually became less moderate. With the support of his powerful and enthusiastic patron, the highest offlces in the .State might not be beyond his reach. Power to Bacon would mean power to do good; no one saw, as he thought he saw, the real needs and dangers of the country. And Science would share in his advancement. It was impossible for a private individual to work out schemes so vast as his; and he reflects that "good thoughts, though God accept them, yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act. and that cannot be without power and place." *
In 1504 the Attorney-Generalship became vacant, and Essex undertook to secure it for Bacon. The attempt was most unfair to the Solicitor-General, Coke, who had clearly a prior claim; but minor points like this Essex, in his headlong zeal, would not stop to consider. He was opposed by Burghley. who represented that Bacon was too InexiKTienced for the post. The Queen chose to be guided by Burghley: Coke was appointed, and became thenceforth Bacon's bitter enemy.
Essex then tried to get Bacon appointed Solicitor-General. He showed in Bacon's interests a degree of con
• Essay, " Of Great Place."
stancy hardly to be expected of his impulsive nature. For a year and a half he urged Bacon's claims, in season —and, more often, out of season—till the Queen and the whole Court were weary of Bacon's very name. Mr. Spedding conjectures that Essex's injudicious vehemence spoiled Bacon's chance; but Burghley told Bacon that the real difficulty lay in the offence which the Queen had taken at a speech he had made in Parliament. It is to Bacon's credit that, believing himself to be in the right in the matter of this speech, he neither apologized for nor retracted it. At last the Queen decided against Bacon, and in that hour of cruel discouragement he half resolved to give up public life and return to philosophy. Essex was almost equally upset. He generously took upon himself the whole blame of the failure; "you fare ill," he said, "because you have chosen me for your mean and dependence," and he presented Bacon with "a piece of laud" worth in our money about £0t)«Mi. When telling the story in after years.' Bacon paused to pay a tribute to the grace with which Essex bestowed his gift: "such kind and noble circumstances as the manner was worth as much as the matter."
In estimating the extent of Bacon's obligations to Essex, Mr. Spedding reminds us that "during the last five or six years Bacon and his brother" had been performing for Essex a kind of service for which £1000 a year would not nowadays be thought very high pay, and for which he had as yet received in money or money's worth nothing whatever. Such services were in those days paid by great men, not
■" Sir Francis Bacon, his apology in certain imputations concerning the late Earl of Essex."
"Anthony Bacon, who was Essex's private secretary. He was invaluable to Essex in the way of supplying him with foreign intelligence.